A classic tenet of Marxist thought is that history moves in stages, from feudalism to capitalism to socialism to communism. It is a widely held belief in most communist parties that class revolution and communism is inevitable with the advancement of mechanization and industrialization, however the argument can be made that this may not be so.
Human society is mechanizing at a rapid rate, and within the next hundred years robots will be able to perform the vast majority of jobs that humans currently occupy. The question that arises is what will humans do when we are faced with an expanding population but a dearth of jobs?
Karl Marx would argue that humans could finally enjoy leisure, and be able to form complex human relationships now that the means of production are no longer humanized. Capitalist theory would argue that innovation and technologization would lead to new fields of work, and that humans will always have areas in which they can work, because new technology leads to new industries. A classic example of this would be how the rise of the internet led to a boom in software jobs.
Human society has many paths ahead of us. We could, like what Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump wishes, embrace xenophobia and nationalism, or we could embrace the corporate state and become slaves to consumerism. Or, we could remain true to our ideals, and work to ensure that freedom is a guaranteed right for all people. Freedom is antithetical to Communism, that is the way of the centralized state economy. However, freedom is at the very least discouraged under laissez-faire economics, which promotes profit over individual rights.
The short answer to the question of whether or not communism is inevitable is no, it is not. History has moved in stages, however it is my belief that we will continue to operate under capitalism until we move to a post-industrial robotic state. The 40 hour workweek will soon be a thing of the past, because robots will be able to achieve massive levels of productivity. Karl Marx was correct on many things, but on human nature he was deeply misguided.
Regardless of how the future goes, we must always look back towards the past for wisdom. The ideals of the Enlightenment sparked Western Civilization as we know it, and we must always look back towards these basic tenets of individual liberty and property rights to guide our thinking. The inherent rights of man must not be infringed upon, by any person, government, or corporation.
The United States is the land of opportunity. For hundreds of years we have provided a new frontier for those who need it the most, and allowed immigrants from all nations to come and make the United States a better place. However, the United States is not always bursting with innovation and know-how and opportunity. For far too long, we have been held down by the unemployed, the least productive in our society. This is not a specific demographic, nor any particular group of people, but my point is, this is not a permanent problem! Unemployment is a byproduct of capitalism, but it is not permanent, nor should it be.
In the depths of the Great Depression, about 1/3rd of the US workforce was unemployed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the greatest American Presidents, solved this with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Millions of Americans were put to work building and repairing infrastructure, as well as beautifying America’s towns, and providing bridges and roads to communities that had never had them before. They were paid well, and their hard work allowed America to experience the greatest prosperity that we have ever experienced before.
The people of the United States do not need a handout. It is not the responsibility of the taxpayer to subsidize the activities of the unemployed. What is needed are opportunities for these unemployed people to work, and make money, and provide for their families.
That is why I am proposing that the WPA be revived, and funded with 6% of the National GDP. The long-term benefits will outweigh the steep cost by raising overall tax revenue, improving America’s infrastructure, and generally improving the quality of life for all.
If any refuse this work opportunity, and demand a handout, they should be barred from receiving government aid until they are gainfully employed. Any person who does not want to work should not expect the aid of the US Government.
There should be a variety of paths available. For those who are educated but do not have employment, they should be given upper-level management positions, architects, foreman's, etc. For those who are not as educated, they will be given a more construction and manual labor-oriented job, and should be given opportunities for vocational training and self-improvement. This should not be a temporary program, like how the original WPA was only active for 8 years, from 1935 to 1943. This should be a permanent program, because there are always things that need to be built and improved. When the worker reaches the age of 65, or if he or she is physically disabled, they should be given a pension and all of the usual Social Security/Medicare benefits.
There is absolutely no excuse for extended periods of unemployment or educating yourself if you are not a senior citizen, and a new WPA would reap benefits for all, including increased education, better infrastructure, and a better society. We all benefit from an educated, confident workplace, and the WPA capitalizes on the hard work of everyday Americans.
This new WPA can also be used for college students and intellectuals. The new WPA would fund research and laboratory experiments for students, and improve the quality of all colleges across the United States, and enable millions of students to participate in a work-study program which also decreases college debt and decreases unnecessary expenditure by colleges.
In conclusion, the United States has the potential to improve itself, and have a better workforce, and a new government-run WPA would have a lasting positive impact on our overall society and our people.
Capitalism is an extremely controversial subject. Some in the counterculture movement reject it entirely, others ask for modified versions of Capitalism, whether that be Keynesian or Friedman-based, or any other version. However, most agree that Modern Capitalism stems from a consequential work by Adam Smith known as The Wealth of Nations.
The first sentence of the text is, “The greatest improvements in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment, with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.” While the sentence by itself sounds rather inauspicious, the consequences of this idea has roots all the way back to the creation of man itself, as well as conflicting with various other ideologies. For example, Marx argues that the division of labor is morally repugnant, as it reduces man to a mere automaton. Alternatively, Smith argues that his tenet of labor division is one of the most fundamental in Capitalism, where if each person works in one area, the factory as a whole is productive and efficient.
Free-Market Capitalism is undoubtedly the most efficient system, however one must take into consideration that efficiency does not guarantee prosperity. Income Inequality is endemic to capitalism, there will always be those who have and those who have not, this is human nature, however the problem arises in that capitalism allows the more prosperous to stifle the less prosperous, by creating monopolies and ending competitive market forces. A prime example of this is how Standard Oil had such monopoly in the industry that they were able to raise and lower prices with impunity. In addition, the boom and busts in capitalism create instability and volatility, which spoils consumer confidence and the wages of ordinary people.
What is the solution to this, if there is one? One must maximize efficiency, while enabling competition, and ensuring that those on the bottom are able to succeed. The truth is that there is no perfect system. There are problems with every economic theory, Communism leads to bureaucracy and inefficiency, as well as cronyism and autocracy, while a purely free-market capitalist system leads to a corporate state, and the destruction of morality in the name of profit. Combining the socialist model with the capitalist model is clearly superior. Out of all of the economists, John Maynard Keynes came the closest. Keynesian Economic Theory led to the prosperity of the 1950’s and 1960’s, however reactionary elements spoiled this prosperity, and allowed the United States to enter a quagmire of depression, monopoly, and anti-democracy. This Keynesian Model could be improved upon by defunding the military-industrial complex, and rejecting the influence of money in politics. This will give the United States hundreds of billions in revenue, which can be used to empower ordinary Americans.
In conclusion, capitalism is the most efficient economic theory, however the moral and environmental side effects hurt sustainability in the long term. The best model would be a combination of socialism and capitalism, the closest of which could be the Nordic Model, or the Slovenian Model.